The continued spread of the COVID-19 has presented China-based businesses with unprecedented challenges. Businesses are now relying on a scattered workforce, operational downtime and thwarted supply chains are threatening to bring business to a standstill, and reduced personnel has precipitated new HR challenges. Economy uncertainties and changing consumer shopping behavior also mean reduced cash flow, more expensive campaigns, and increased overhead costs. Every business manager needs to find bold and timely solutions to these challenges, yet most of them have never experienced a crisis of this magnitude in their lifetime.
Note that China’s economy is promising to rebound sooner than the rest of the world, so you have to hang in there until the movement of people, supply chains, production, and consumer confidence resumes. Most multinational companies in China are now planning on recovery and preparing their arsenal for post-recovery. That is the route every Chinese business needs to take going forward.
So, how do you manage your Chinese business during coronavirus? Here is what you should know:
- Communication challenges
One challenge that employers have to contend with is how to communicate with their staff members with clarity. There is too much information out there, most of which are confusing, contradictory, or impractical. Reliable information is technically absent because even media reports are littered with unreliable perspectives and advice. Without consistent information and overall direction, employees cannot be productive in the workplace. You, the employer, must be the voice of reason and source of hope that your workers rely on.
- Keeping employees safe
You must create proactive guidance, operational guidelines and procedures, and financial/emotional support for each of your workers. You have to train your staff members on ways of minimizing exposure to COVID-19 while at the workplace or when they are out dining in canteens. You must also set up health checks and quarantine areas for everyone who steps foot in the office and have emergency systems in place for any abnormal situation that may arise. By so doing, you will gain the confidence and trust of your employees. They will feel cared for and safe enough to work optimally.
- Other human resource challenges
During these challenging and uncertain times, abiding by the Chinese employment law is a huge challenge for employers. Of course, there are positives such as increased government aid and reduced taxes, but companies are finding it hard to navigate the employment law in regards to leave and terminations. There are too many legislative changes that have happened in just the first two weeks of April, all impacting either business operations or the country’s workforce. Employers need the services of a local Chinese PEO company such as NH Global Partners to navigate the confusing and sometimes contradicting China employment law. With global PEO services, hiring and firing employees during such a crisis, as well as negotiating remuneration, is a little less stressful.
Some businesses have been hard hit by the COVID-19 pandemic, but firing employees is not an option for them. If you run a restaurant, for example, your employees have nothing to do since the government banned sit-in eateries. Your only way of preventing employee redundancy is to allocate them new and hopefully valuable roles. You can, for example, engage them in recovery planning activities. That level of flexibility and creativity can be challenging to achieve.
Supply Chain Logistics
Chinese manufacturers and suppliers are working tirelessly to keep supply chains up and running. That is how the country has managed to ensure enough supply of materials, especially PPEs for the front-line medical workers (surgical masks, disinfectants, protective suits, and safety goggles). But not all industries have been as lucky as the medical sector in terms of keeping supply lines open. Most stores are struggling to keep commodity prices as low as possible and at the same time remaining stocked with all the supplies that their clients need. There is also the challenge of providing fast and safe delivery services in cities that have been locked down. Companies such as Alibaba and JD Logistics have turned to autonomous ground robots in their provision of last-mile delivery.
The Chinese economy has been exposed by COVID-19 as a highly vulnerable market in times of societal and economic disruptions. As a trader in China, you must start strategizing on how to respond to infectious-disease outbreaks even after coronavirus is contained. After all, this virus will not be the last global pandemic.